James Beckwourth, also known as Jim, was an African American mountain man, fur trader, explorer and author. If you were to ask me to describe him, I would say he was a jack of all trades. James Beckwourth, a mixed-race slave, was born around 1798 in Virginia. When he was in his late 20’s, he was freed by his slave master and father, Jennings Beckwith. James would later change the spelling of his last name to Beckwourth.
I found it interesting that James lived amongst Native Americans, the Crow to be exact, and he was at one point admitted into their tribe. How so? Because he was mistaken as the long lost son of the Crow chief. It came as no surprise to me that James, along with the rest of the Crow nation, saw the Blackfoot nation as their enemy during that time.
During his time with the Crow nation of people, James married two Native American women and became an established and esteemed fur trader. At one point in time, he was also married to an African American woman and a Hispanic woman. From some of those unions, he had four children.
I was a little bothered by the notion that he was in some way affiliated with the Sand Creek Massacre; a massacre that killed up to 500 of the Cheyenne and Arapaho nation of people. His demise in his late 60’s is said to be the cause of poisoning. Poisoned by who? The Crow nation of people. Why? Because of his affiliation with the U.S. Army. The U.S. Army is largely to blame for the Sand Creek Massacre.
James Beckwourth’s life story is quite interesting and even a little intriguing. I can’t in no way share it all on here. When you get a chance, you should definitely read a little more about him.
Until next time…
At first glance, you may not recognize the name Merry Clayton, but if I were to mention a very popular song where her vocals are heard on, you’d immediately recognize her voice. It’s her name that doesn’t ring a bell with millions of listeners despite her making one particular song insanely famous. What song am I referring to? Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones.
Merry Clayton has said in several documentaries that she’s often referred to as “the lady with the killer voice” who sung with The Rolling Stones, but many don’t know her name. On some of The Rolling Stones records for Gimme Shelter her name is misspelled as ‘Mary’ instead of Merry, even still The Rolling Stones have largely credited her with the song’s huge success. According to Mick Jagger, he thought it would be a great idea to have a woman sing on the chorus, so Merry was called in the middle of the night to see if she would be willing to do it. With “curlers” in her hair, Merry sung her verses in a few takes which blew Mick and his group away. Sad to say, she suffered a miscarriage shortly after which you can read more about it here.
Mick would later state that he found it to be “pretty amazing” how quickly Merry did her verses because her delivery was raw and from deep within her soul. Mick said he loved it when her voice cracked because it made the hair on his neck stand up. If you’ve ever listened to Gimme Shelter, you know exactly what he is talking about. Mick and the rest of The Rolling Stones are quick to point out that without Merry’s vocals on Gimme Shelter, the song wouldn’t have reached it’s level of popularity. Millions also agree.
I was a little surprised to learn from her documentary that she also did background vocals on the famous Lynyrd Skynyrd song Sweet Home Alabama. Tragically in 2014, Merry Clayton had to have both of her legs amputated below her knees due to a very bad car accident, but her spirit of resilience is stronger than ever. Merry Clayton was more than just a background singer, she was also a successful soul singer in her own right. Click here for one of my favorite Merry Clayton songs and of course you know you have to click here for Gimme Shelter.
Until next time..
It’s February! So you know I’m about to share untold stories or forgotten about events for Black History month. Let’s get started…
Recy Taylor. Have you heard of her before? Millions were introduced to her during Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech a few weeks ago. I however knew about her way before then. Let me tell you a little bit about this courageous woman who passed away December 28, 2017 at the age of 97.
Recy Taylor was a woman with an extraordinary painful history. Her case stands out in history because of what she, like so many other Black women, went through during slavery and the Jim Crow Era. Recy Taylor was gang raped by seven White men and beaten over the course for several hours. The damage that was done to her body was so extensive that she was unable to bear more children.
Recy Taylor tells how prior to her vicious attack, several White men were following her, whistling at her and calling her derogatory names. The things she went through that night over the course of several hours is way too graphic and I refuse to share the sickening details. Sad to say, rape and other means of sexual violence was the main tool of intimidation towards Black women by the Ku Klux Klan and other racist White men.
Despite numerous threats from her attackers, Recy Taylor was brave enough to call out her attackers and to press charges against them which was unprecedented at that time. With her face still badly bruised and battered, she boldly and courageously told her story. Sadly, like so many other Black women and men during that time, nothing was ever done to her attackers and she never received any type of justice while she was still alive.
A documentary was made about her life and if you have the stomach to watch it, it’s a painful and depressing thing to watch. Yet, millions of Black Americans have similar stories to tell because that is something that happened quite often back then.
The one thing that stands out about Recy Taylor to millions of people now is her bravery and her fearlessness. Recy Taylor had the guts to speak up when so many chose to remain silent out of fear, intimidation and retaliation. Say what you want, Recy Taylor was a force to be reckoned with until the very end.
Until next time…
This morning I had a conversation with a colleague at work regarding my ancestry test I submitted. He’s White and as you know, I’m Black and of Native American descent. I have no issue talking about race because I have friends from various racial backgrounds and we talk about race quite often. That’s the beauty of having a variety of friends from different backgrounds and cultures!
Any who, he asked why I would be devastated if I was less than 60% Black. As we laughed and talked a little, I mentioned that 60% to me is like “failing” as a Black person. I have it in my mind that regardless of my results, I’ll continue to see myself as a Black woman of Native American descent.
With that being said, I would still be a little bothered if I have a large amount of White ancestry. Why? Because studies have shown that Black people with a high percentage of White ancestry had many relatives who were products of slave rape.
I sincerely hope my DNA ancestry will NOT reflect that. That would bother me in ways you cannot imagine. Let it be like 1% or 2% European ancestry. Its bad enough my ancestors were slaves, but to know that many of them were raped and were products of rape is just plain heartbreaking.
Until next time…
Good Morning! Happy Friday y’all! I hope you plan on doing some amazing things today. Inspire and be inspired! You get what you give!
This writer woke up to one of the best questions ever and I could not wait to answer it. I was asked, “What do you hope to accomplish with your first book series The Chronicles of Neffie when it’s released next year?” Is that not an awesome question? Seeing how The Chronicles of Neffie was picked up for more literary / editorial reviews, I had to push it’s release back to accommodate reviewers. Still hoping for more five star reviews!
My answer to that fan-tabulous question is this:
I hope that The Chronicles of Neffie will do more than entertain. I hope that it will do more than just inspire. My hope for The Chronicles of Neffie above all else is that it will change lives. I once had doubts about writing a novel series loosely based on my Great, Great Grandmother’s life as a slave and slavery, but that only lasted for a few seconds.
I AM a descendant of slaves who fought for their freedom and survived unimaginable things just so I could be here today. They changed my life through their perseverance and survival and I hope to change other people’s lives by sharing this story. My ancestors can longer tell what all they went through, but I can. I owe them that and so much more.
Until next time…
As I await the results of my ancestry test, I find myself wondering about my Sub-Saharan African percentage. I won’t lie to you, I want it to be alot, but DNA in itself can be very tricky. To ease my mind, I started goggling ancestry DNA results and stumbled across two videos that I will share here.
Most people, like myself at one point in time, believed that the darker the person the more “African” they are. That’s not entirely true. Charles Barkley and Snoop Dogg had a DNA test to see who is “Blacker” and the results were actually pretty close! I decided to order my ancestry kit from My Heritage and I will have my results in 6-8 weeks. After doing a little research, I decided to go with My Heritage since it was more detailed than 23andme. I was asked if I would do a reaction video of my results, but I’m not too sure about that.
So, who’s “Blacker” ? Snoop Dogg or Charles Barkley? See for yourself.
Click here for Charles Barkley. Results begin at the 1:55 mark…
Click here for Snoop Dogg.
Click here for Tamera Mowry’s emotional DNA reveal.
Until next time…
Eugene Bullard. Do you recognize that name? Better yet, have you ever heard of him? I’ll be honest and say that I never heard of him until yesterday. I had an awesome reader introduce him to me yesterday and when I did a little research on him I was amazed.
Eugene Bullard was the first African American military pilot. He was one of the few Black combat pilots of WWI. Born to a Haitian father and an indigenous Creek mother, he escaped to Scotland as a stowaway to get away from the racism that plagued many African Americans. As a child, he witnessed his father’s narrow escape from a lynching which made him even more determined to leave the South.
When he arrived in Scotland, he worked as a boxer and in a music hall. When he enlisted in WWI and became seriously injured, he volunteered to become an airgunner. He would eventually make a name for himself as an airgunner and soon a pilot. Nicknamed the Black Swallow of Death, Eugene would go on to receive many awards and widespread recognition for his service.
After his discharge, he found work as a drummer and as a nightclub manager. Soon, he became the owner of his own nightclub L’Escadrille where famous people like Louis Armstrong, famed actress Josephine Baker and acclaimed poet Langston Hughes would often attend.
Upon returning to the United States in his later years, he worked as an elevator operator where he was relatively unknown. In December 1959, he was interviewed by the Today Show and found new fame again. Almost two years later he died from stomach cancer at the age of 66, but still to this day he is widely regarded and recognized as the first decorated African American military pilot in the world.
Until next time…